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UNITED STATES v. KOREH

June 28, 1994

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
FERENC KOREH, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARYANNE TRUMP BARRY

 BARRY, District Judge

 On September 15, 1950, defendant Ferenc Koreh executed an Application for Immigration Visa and Alien Registration and shortly thereafter was granted a visa by the American Consulate in Salzburg, Austria. He entered the United States on December 11, 1950 and on November 14, 1955 submitted an Application to File Petition for Naturalization and Statement of Facts in Preparation of Petition, with the executed Petition for Naturalization following on December 16, 1955. On March 8, 1956, defendant became a citizen of the United States when the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted the Petition and issued him a Certificate of Naturalization.

 The United States brings this action pursuant to Section 340(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, 8 U.S.C. § 1451 (a) (the "Act"), to revoke defendant's citizenship. *fn1" The complaint is in ten counts and alleges that defendant was ineligible for citizenship in the United States because during World War II he was employed in Hungary as an officer of the Information Section of the Royal Hungarian Ministry of Defense and Propaganda; was Responsible Editor of and a writer for the anti-Semitic and anti-Allied privately owned daily newspaper Szekely Nep; was Responsible Editor of the anti-Allied government weekly newspaper, Vilaglap; and was a writer for the fascist Arrow Cross newspaper Az Orszag. The complaint also alleges that following World War II, defendant was convicted as a war criminal by virtue of his activities as Responsible Editor of Vilaglap and that he misrepresented and concealed his wartime activities to immigration and naturalization officials, thus illegally procuring his naturalization and rendering it invalid.

 The United States has been conservative in the facts which it alleges in support of its motion for summary judgment, relying virtually exclusively on facts which have been stipulated, on defendant's statements and admissions, and on facts, including the historical background which places defendant's activities in perspective, which are not disputed. This court, based on those stipulated, admitted, and undisputed facts, and on those facts only, concludes that, as a matter of law, the United States' motion for summary judgment will be granted. Stated somewhat differently, the United States has shown by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence that does not leave the issue in doubt that its motion for summary judgment should be granted. Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490, 505-06, 66 L. Ed. 2d 686, 101 S. Ct. 737 (1981).

 Parenthetically, before reaching this point the court has had to resolve certain difficulties in its own mind and thus has dragged its judicial feet in hopes that the case would be disposed of in ways other than this. On the one hand, the court is faced with a defendant who will be 85 years of age in September, 1994 *fn2" and who has been in this country for 44 of those years working until his retirement and apparently with some distinction for Radio Free Europe; producing and broadcasting a Hungarian language radio program; and writing for and/or editing a Hungarian newspaper, a Hungarian magazine, and a Hungarian news quarterly. Importantly, there is no suggestion that defendant personally committed or supervised the commission of any of the atrocities that one typically sees in cases in which the United States seeks denaturalization; indeed, had the conduct in which he concededly engaged and the anti-Semitic and anti-Allied articles he is alleged to have written and admittedly published occurred in this county, that conduct and those articles would most likely be protected by the First Amendment. On the other hand, defendant's admitted and undisputed activities during the discrete periods of time to which the United States points on this motion warrant denaturalization as a matter of law. *fn3" This court is bound to apply the law and will do so for the reasons which follow.

 I. Background

 Between World War I and World War II, Hungary sought to regain the territories it lost to its neighbors under the provisions of the post-World War I Treaty of Trianon, signed in 1920. Hungary was successful in this regard principally because of its assistance to and relationship with Germany. Indeed, its alliance with Germany was evident in its decision to become the first East Central European government to adhere to the Tripartite Pact, by which Hungary formally joined the Axis on November 20, 1940. Hungary thereafter joined the Axis powers in their invasion of the Soviet Union on June 27, 1941. On December 13, 1941, Hungary joined the Axis declaration of war on the United States.

 The German influence played a significant role in Hungary's domestic policies. In May 1938, on the heels of Germany's annexation of Austria which resulted in a common border between Hungary and Germany, the Hungarian Parliament passed the first of several anti-Semitic laws. This legislation limited to twenty percent the proportion of Jews that could be employed in the free professions (law, journalism, theater, music and the arts), and in financial, commercial and industrial enterprises with more than ten employees. Subsequent legislation defined "Jewishness" as a racial term, implemented stricter social and economic restrictions on Jews, and, among other things, prohibited Jews from obtaining Hungarian citizenship, from serving in public administration, and from holding leading positions in the press.

 The Hungarian government's hostility toward Jews went beyond social and economic restrictions in early 1941. In April of that year, the Hungarian Government directed that all Jewish males serve in a Forced Labor Service which would be an auxiliary to the Hungarian Army. Many Jews who served in these labor camps died as a result of mistreatment, exposure, starvation, lack of medical care and, pure and simple, murder. In August 1941, following Hungary's participation in the invasion of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, Hungary passed a law criminalizing sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews and banning marriages between these two groups. Also in 1941, the first mass deportation of Jews from Hungary occurred after a government decree ordered the deportation from Hungarian territory of all Jews who could not prove that they held Hungarian citizenship. In August 1941 alone, approximately 18,000 Jews were deported to the German-occupied Ukraine where they were murdered and buried in mass graves by the SS and police units.

 As early as 1938, the Hungarian government began to control the press for the purpose of influencing public opinion and bringing the press into line with the aims of the government, and the press corps was purged of Jews. Randolph Braham, an expert on the domestic and foreign relations of World War II Hungary, contends that the acceptance by Hungarian citizens of measures against fellow Hungarians such as the measures described above was attributable in part to the anti-Jewish political climate fostered by official propaganda and a fascist-oriented press which, in mid-1941, began to identify the Hungarian Jewish population as a threat. Defendant does not take issue with this contention. Neither does he dispute that during his admitted presence in 1941 and almost half of 1942 as Responsible Editor of Szekely Nep,4 a daily paper published in Northern Transylvania where approximately 164,000 Jews lived under the anti-Semitic laws referred to above and from 1942 on the largest provincial paper in Hungary, the paper "ranked among the pro-Axis rightist press organs in the country", Braham Aff. P 27. Nor does he dispute that the paper's anti-Jewish stance became virulent immediately after the entry of Hungary into the war against the Soviet Union on June 27, 1941 and that many specific articles displayed a racist sentiment against Jews by advocating economic and social discrimination against them, sentiments that were subsequently enacted into law by the Hungarian government. And, of course, nothing has been offered by defendant to rebut Braham's conclusion that because of the anti-Allied and anti-Semitic articles published in this and other papers, the resolve of the Hungarian people to continue the war on the side of the Axis powers was strengthened and they were conditioned to accept Hungary's swift and efficient persecution of Jews.

 By January of 1943, defendant had moved to Budapest and taken a position in the Information Section of the Hungarian Ministry of Propaganda. The Ministry of Propaganda was created in 1942 by the government of Hungary to organize war propaganda, to disseminate the government's policy to Hungarians, and to collect information on public opinion. The Information Section of the Ministry was responsible for following public opinion and providing information to certain institutions and organizations in an effort to advance the dissemination of that information to the general public.

 Defendant's responsibilities at the Ministry included the preparation of radio broadcasts, the monitoring of the Hungarian press, and occasional travel with his superior, Istvan Antal, when Antal gave public speeches. In the Spring of 1943 until March 1944, defendant also served as Responsible Editor of Magvar Ero (Hungarian power), a weekly paper which focused primarily on military matters and which was owned by the Ministry of Propaganda.

 German forces occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, and more than one hundred decrees related to Jews subsequently were issued including decrees identifying Jews and their property, which was confiscated; isolating Jews from Christians; forcing Jews to wear the yellow star of David and ordering them to move into ghettos; restricting their movements and their use of public transportation, baths, theaters, restaurants and their allocation of food; and culminating in mass deportations beginning on May 15, 1944 to such places as the Auschwitz death camp. The speed and magnitude of the deportations are evidenced by the fact that between the middle of May, 1944 and July 8, 1944, approximately 435,000 Hungarian Jews were transported out of Hungary to German labor and concentration camps, primarily Auschwitz.

 From May 1944 to November 15, 1944, defendant was the Responsible Editor of Vilaglap ("World Journal"), a periodical owned by the Hungarian Government, having taken this position at the request of a government official at the Ministry of Culture. His responsibilities at Vilaglap included the supervision of the editorial staff and the review of photos and articles selected for publication. Although defendant does not concede that anti-Allied and pro-Nazi articles were published in Vilaglap, he admits that if any such articles were published, it was done at the direction of one of the ministries.

 Under defendant as Responsible Editor, the profile and tone and the editorial board of the periodical changed, and the previous Responsible Editor, Zsigmond Havas, who was married to a Jew, was removed from his position. Braham opines that defendant's ascension to the position of Responsible Editor indicates that he was considered to be politically reliable by ...


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